Crafted Amidst Crisis
CRAFTED AMIDST CRISIS
Burundi’s most recent history has been marred by conflict, at its worst, culminating in genocide in 1993. The most recent outbreak of violence, which started in April 2015, comes on the basis of the president’s refusal to step down after the end of his legal term limit. The following unrest and brutal crackdown by security forces and government affiliated militias on the population resulted in a large-scale ongoing refugee crisis, in which, by the end of 2017, more than 400,000 Burundians fled to neighboring countries.
According to the UNHCR, Burundian refugee numbers are expected to increase by over 50,000 this year as regional efforts to resolve the political crisis have not made significant progress.
Most Burundian refugees fled their homes without any belongings, often carrying several of their children who were as young as just a couple months old. Over half of them ended up in Tanzania - 254,000 refugees are currently in camps in the northwest of the country.
While the refugees enjoy relative security and access to basic services in the camps, the response to the Burundian refugee crisis is highly underfunded. Refugees get a mere 21% of the required funds, making it the world’s least funded refugee response. As a result, food rations and other services have been limited, leaving refugees with only about 60% of the required food quantities per person.
In 2017, Tanzanian social enterprise WomenCraft started their collaboration with UNHCR to develop a product collection made by Burundian refugee women artisans. With inspirations drawn from traditional Burundian baskets and a modern spin, WomenCraft designers and refugee artisans brought forward a full series of baskets in strikingly minimalist patterns.
With this special collection being completed in 2018, refugee artisans gain access to premium international markets, generating reliable incomes to strengthen their resilience and restoring their sense of self-determination.
“We want our customers to know that we are ready for their orders, as many as we can get!"
"Our products are beautiful and we would be excited for customers to tell their colleagues, friends and family about them, so they can also place an order and help us improve our families’ situation in the camp.”
Words: WOMENCRAFT / MINZUU Photos: WOMENCRAFT